Florida Churches Are Doing What Many County Clerks Refuse To Do: Solemnize Gay Marriages

Tired of being rejected by county clerks throughout Florida who are refusing to perform same-sex marriages because of their religious beliefs, some Florida gay couples are finding relief in, of all places, churches, the Fort Meyers News-Press is reporting.

At the All Faiths Unitarian Congregation in Fort Myers, Reverend Margaret Beard is offering gay weddings on a first-come, first-serve, walk-in basis.

“Today we are here to celebrate the LEGAL marriage of Derek Daniels and Christian Montgomery.”

Same-sex marriage officially became legal in Florida on January 6, according to this Inquisitr report, after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to intervene in a case challenging The Sunshine’s State’s gay marriage ban. However, despite the now-legal status of same-sex marriage in Florida, several county clerks have refused to perform same-sex marriages, according to the St. Augustine Record. Duval and Clay Counties, for example, have stopped performing weddings altogether, rather than perform same-sex marriages.

Reverend Wayne Robinson, also of All Faiths, says that his congregation offers acceptance to gay couples who have found rejection at Florida courthouses.

“It was really hard to go to the court clerk and always be rejected. But today was yes to life, yes to a life together and yes to the sacredness of marriage.”

A gay man who identified himself only as “Bill” to WINK (Fort Myers), was married to his partner of 40 years on Sunday at All Faiths.

“We met in Fort Myers 40 years ago. So we’ve been waiting a long time. It feels great to have the same benefits as heterosexual couples do and we waited a long time for this day to come.”

Members of the congregation at All Faiths enjoyed the gay-marriage free-for-all on Sunday almost as much as the gay couples getting married there. A 5-year-old girl, Ainsleigh Babcock, made sure everybody in the room got a rose, while her friend, Sophia Pennisi, handed out Hershey’s kisses.

Straight couple Chris and Steve Fisher, married for 37 years, beamed at the happy gay couples getting married in their church.

“We love it. We have a lot of gay friends and we’re glad to be part of it. We’ve been married 37 years and we have a lot of friends in committed, same-sex relationships longer than that.”

All Faiths isn’t the only church in southwest Florida holding gay marriages; Saint John the Apostle Metropolitan Community Church Unitarian Universalist Church of Fort Myers offered similar first-come, first-service same-sex marriage ceremonies.

All Faiths pastor Margaret Beard says she got the idea from seeing churches in other states offer same-sex marriages, according to WBBH (Fort Myers).

“We believe in the inherent worth and dignity of all people, no exceptions and part of that is being able to get married in a beautiful church like ours.”

All Faiths Church will offer free same-sex marriages to gay Florida couples — or gay couples from states where gay marriage isn’t yet legal, such as Alabama — for the rest of January.

[Image courtesy of: Fort Myers News-Press]